A year ago, Vanessa Campos had never picked up a tennis racket.
In her first meet for South, Campos was clueless in how to keep the score so she bugged her opponent for it throughout the match.
She definitely knew the score on Saturday, as Campos and her doubles partner Kaylyn Rhodes qualified for the Class 6A tournament with a fourth-place finish out of the Maize Regional.
“This all is so crazy,” Campos said. “We always said we wanted to get to state, but I didn’t believe it at first. Then we started winning and I knew we had a chance. This just shows that anything is possible.”
Never miss a local story.
Maize’s depth was illustrated by its fourth straight regional championship and once again qualifying its entire team to the state meet. Olivia Medaris finished first in singles, defeating Northwest’s Lindy Wilkerson in the final, and Hannah Hills was third.
The Eagles lost in the finals in doubles, as Paige Lungwitz and Jessi Holman dropped the rubber game between Hutchinson’s Hannah Weber and Allison Reiser after splitting the first two matches this season.
Maize also qualified its other doubles team of Audrey Stingo and Sydney Shields.
For Lungwitz and Holman, who have been partners since seventh grade, the state meet will be their last tournament. The duo qualified for state four times, including two ninth-place finishes, and racked up more than 100 wins in their careers.
“It’s just emotional and makes us want to do that much better,” Holman said. “You can’t come back to this moment, so it just motivates us even more.”
But it was South that had opposing coaches impressed. The Titans also qualified singles player Miy Ngamsiri, who finished fourth.
Second-year coach Andrea Harris, also the soccer coach at South, has tapped into her soccer connections to improve the tennis team. Campos and Rhodes were both soccer players before Harris convinced them to come out for tennis.
It had been so long since the Titans sent a doubles team to state that no one could remember such an occasion.
“This is such an amazing feeling,” Rhodes said. “It all feels like a dream to me.”
But don’t assume that these girls are soccer players playing tennis.
“I’m a tennis player slash soccer player,” said Campos, before packing up her racket and heading to a club soccer game later Saturday. “I can be both.”
Team scores—1. Maize 23, 2. Hutchinson 11, T3. W. South 9, T3. W. Northwest 9, 5. Garden City 4, T6. Dodge City 1, T6. Campus 1, 8. W. North 0.
Singles—1. Medaris, Maize, def. Wilkerson, Northwest, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3; 3. Hills, Maize, def. Ngamsiri, South, 6-4, 6-4; 5. Cavallaro, Northwest, def. Schmidt, Garden City, 6-0, 6-4.
Doubles_1. Weber-Reiser, Hutchinson, def. Lungwitz-Holman, Maize, 6-4, 6-1; 3. Stingo-Shields, Maize, def. Rhodes-Campus, South, 6-3, 6-1; 5. M. Fee-A. Fee, Hutchinson, def. Martinez-Keller, Garden City, 6-4, 6-2.